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William Vanderbilt Cecil
Biltmore Estate
Asheville, North Carolina

At Home on Biltmore Estate
Written by William Vanderbilt Cecil

William Vanderbilt Cecil

Biltmore House, the largest privately owned home in America, has always been just that - a home. It wasn't designed to be a museum or a monument; it was built to provide gracious shelter and a warm welcome for my grandfather's family and friends. Guests found comfort in the beautifully appointed rooms, acres of magnificently landscaped gardens and miles of woodland preserves. For them, it was an oasis far away from the hustle and bustle of industrialized life in America.

In 1960, I left a lucrative banking career in Manhattan to return to Asheville, North Carolina, to see what I could make of my childhood home. Friends called my inheritance a "white elephant" and urged me to sell it or turn it over to a non-profit trust, but I was determined to keep the estate intact and run it as a business, just as my grandfather and father had done. With a great deal of hard work, careful planning and a genuine desire to bring Biltmore Estate back to its Gilded Age splendor, the estate began to attract more visitors and we were able to continue a steady process of restoration.

These days, we strive to maintain the authenticity of Biltmore Estate by remaining true to our heritage. Our vineyard and winery, for example, are a natural extension of our agricultural traditions, as is our emphasis on serving estate-raised products in our restaurants. With the Inn on Biltmore Estate, we offer guests the legendary hospitality and world-class service they would have received more than a century ago. We hope that each guest will experience Biltmore Estate in a unique way and carry that memory with them always.

I am still transported back in time when I visit the house where I was born. My own children are intimately acquainted with their grandfather's house and are actively involved with our enduring mission to preserve all of Biltmore Estate as a privately owned, profitable working estate. I think my grandfather, George Washington Vanderbilt, would approve of what we've done to the place and what my family will continue to do to ensure that Biltmore Estate can be enjoyed by future generations.


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